Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, November 21, 2018 — A Black man and his girlfriend, both of whom were pepper-sprayed and violently arrested by police officers during the Grand Prix in Montreal, want to hold not only the arresting police officers accountable, the SPVM, but also the supervisor who was present and who could have acted to avoid the abuse.

On June 9, Daniel Louis, 42, and his girlfriend Gertrude Dubois, in her thirties, were in their car on in the midst of Grand Prix celebrations on Saint-Catherine West, downtown. Like other cars that blew their horn to mark the event, Louis also joined in and honked. The couple was quickly approached by a police officer who asked them for a piece of ID.

As he was trying to have a friendly chat with the officer and get his documents, Louis asked the officer why he was the only person intercepted. Within seconds, without reason, justification and the time to gather his documents, Louis was hit by pepper-stray in his eyes.

The spray was so strong that Dubois, sitting in the passenger seat and talking to him, was also hit. In a state of panic, she came out of the car, in pain.

Within seconds, Louis was violently pulled from his car by three officers who refused to give him any explanations. Louis was then rapidly handcuffed by a police officer who put on the handcuffs very tightly, and who then threw Louis on the couple's car.

Meanwhile, Dubois was also violently detained the moment she came out of the car, thrown onto it and handcuffed. She was then pushed into a police vehicle while another examined and photographed her ID. She was then released, the handcuffs removed, without being officer any aid to her eyes.

After the incident, the couple found themselves with physical and psychological injuries. They also lost a ring and a collar. Louis had two criminal charges (for obstruction and resisting arrest), and two tickets worth $888.00.

“It was not only completely unjustified police brutality but also an abject abuse of power that is essentially indefensible,” Louis said. “ Being the object of police violence is one thing, but being the object of criminal charges for almost six months compels me to ask serious questions on the color of justice in Montreal, ” he said.

“It is clear that the police would not treat us in a manner as abusive, even excessive, had we not been Black,” Dubois said.

In addition to a police ethics complaint, Dubois mandated CRARR to file a complaint of racial profiling with the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. Louis will file his on the coming days.

In the meantime, the couple learned that the Quebec Police Force has begun, since last summer, a criminal investigation into the police officers' conduct during the incident, especially in light of the video recording of Louis' arrest that showed a police officer pepper-spraying the crowd.

Furthermore, last month, the Office of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecution informed Louis that criminal charges against him would be dropped in exchange for his payment of the two tickets which he contested.

According to Alain Babineau, CRARR advisor and a retired RCMP police officer, the couple should not have been arrested, pepper-sprayed and subjected to excessive force.

“The testimonies and the video lead us to believe that there was indeed on the part of the officers implicated, abuse of power, zeal, excessive force and a lack of consideration for the integrity and safety of the couple,” Babineau said.

“What is more important to us is the role of the police supervisor who should have prevented this gross abuse of power and this is one aspect of the case which we will ask the Police Ethics Commissioner to examine,” Babineau added.

In Dubois' complaint, CRARR has asked the human rights commission to examine the link between race and excessive force and the lack of consideration of a citizen's health and safety when arrested. This is an issue that has been often identified in police interventions involving Black people and that has begun to be debated in Canadian courts. The same request will be made in Louis' complaint to the commission.